Your business is growing, but the processes you used when you had one or two employees just won’t cut it now that you’ve grown so much. So how do you get your processes to grow with you, and how do you get your team on board with them?
Simran Thadani, executive director of Letterform Archive, a nonprofit organization that has a library of typography and design elements, sat down with Ignition to share her methods and business organization tools.
Sim recommends tools like Trello and Zen Payroll to capture ideas and reduce administrative time. But she also recommends that to get your team on board with you, you need to reach a consensus and stick to it. One method she uses is the Google Ventures Design Sprint, which uses sticky notes and the whole team. Check out her video interview below!
Not able to watch right now? Read through our summary below.
Leveraging business organization tools
Ignition listener Henry sent this question:
I've only ever worked for start-ups and small business. Now that I have a start-up of my own with four employees, the things I used to do to stay organized and efficient just aren't working anymore. But I don't know how larger start-ups scale their processes, and more specifically, I don't know how to get my team on board to help us scale ours. Do you have any suggestions on how we can better communicate, capture ideas and plan next steps as our business grows?
Sim started by saying this: To scale up, slow down. Henry has four rockstars he’s hired to work for him, so he should first think about them and how he can leverage their skills. Consider what each individual brings to the table and how you can help each person adapt to new processes individually.
Having good business organization tools to document processes and capture ideas will help you reduce administrative time. One tool that Sim loves is Trello, which is like a sticky note wall. Using the app, you can create note cards that you can put on lists and then move them around by clicking and dragging them. Trello gives you a flexible, interactive, collaborative tool with which you can chart out anything from team roles on a specific project to your company's 18-month road map. You can also use it to simply to track your to-do list.
Sim also recommended Zen Payroll (now known as Gusto.) The app allows companies to manage payroll and benefits in one solution. Plus, when employees receive their first paychecks, the app says, "Hey, you've just been paid. Isn't today a beautiful day?" with a picture of butterflies and flowers.
Those tools can help Henry manage administrative tasks and reduce his overhead costs in terms of time, energy and money.
Slow down to scale up
To scale up, slow down. You might be thinking, "I work overtime already. I don't have time for this."
But it's much easier to get to the prize if you have your eyes on that prize. You want to know where you're going. You want to understand that you're doing it the right way, and most importantly, you want to know and believe you have your employees on board with you. Part of the process of growing a business is reaching a consensus and then sticking with it—without someone saying, "Well, I said that we should do it this way."
Sim uses the Google Ventures Design Sprint model. The sprint begins with quiet time to brainstorm. Employees are told there are no bad ideas. They write everything down on a sticky note with a magic marker and stick it up on a wall. That way, there’s not just one loud voice in the room or deathly silence. People then use stars or tallies to vote on their favorites. You’ll find that it’s not that one person who has all the good ideas. Typically, all parts of the company will be represented, and all employees have ideas worth contributing.
Next, you talk about validating the idea, asking the team: Why did you choose this idea? Why did this idea have three stars and the next had five? What's the best way to pursue the idea? From there, you can prototype the idea. The exercise brings tremendous validation—not just of the best ideas, but of the people who brought up those ideas.
The frequency of your sprints depends on how frequently you feel you need to iterate on something new, whether it’s to improve a process or come up with a new idea from scratch. The design sprint works in a range of different situations. Bt you don’t want to rely on it as a crutch, like going back to the drawing board because it didn’t work. Take the time you need, but don’t get stuck in too many meetings. Use the sprint to figure out the path to the next idea. Iterate from where you’re stuck. Be confident in the good ideas you’ve had thus far, and then take things from there.